How to Find the Right Dental Hygienist Degree Program near Gilbert Arizona
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist college near Gilbert AZ is an essential initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than picking the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other significant issues to take into account as well, such as the program's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Gilbert AZ dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in nearly all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensure exams. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
Because of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Gilbert AZ dental offices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are offered in community colleges as well as trade and technical schools. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Training Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist program may be a viable alternative for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Gilbert AZ home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can often be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online school is the right option for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Gilbert AZ, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many potential students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they search for some online options also. Even though these are important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should address to the programs you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Gilbert AZ dental practices frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist programs have associations with local dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program you choose offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Gilbert AZ dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygienist schools need assistance landing their first job. Check if the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Gilbert AZ dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Smaller? Ask the colleges you are evaluating how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Gilbert AZ dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, don't forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Gilbert AZ area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Gilbert AZ at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Right Gilbert Dental Hygienist Training
Selecting the right dental hygienist program is important if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives available to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs generally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Gilbert Arizona.